“The most beautiful things are not these objects. The most beautiful things are inside. “- Jay Z
(SL) – “I can’t see it coming down my eyes, so I gotta make the song cry.” Hip Hop Mogul Shawn ‘Jay Z’ Carter says when he wrote that song he was clearly hiding because the strongest thing a man can do is cry.
In his evolution, he now believes that being vulnerable and exposing yourself to the world is real strength; something him and Beyonce both exercised on their latest projects. Jigga says originally it was supposed to be a joint album, but Beyonce was way ahead in her project and ended up dropping Lemonade first. It was Lemonade that finally put the spotlight on what possibly happened when Solange went Bruce Lee in the elevator. But…will he ever tell us who Becky with the good hair is? Not likely.
Beyonce dropped the hints and Jay Z pretty much confirmed the infidelity allegations on his top grammy nominated album 4:44. However, Hov, outside of his lyrics, has never flat out admitted that yes…he did in fact cheat on his wife of nine years, until now.
With no theatrics, no studio, producer or engineer Jay Z sat down with Dean Baquet on September 27th and took us all the way inside the life of music’s next billionaire.
“I’m not black. I’m O.J.” – Orenthal Simpson
“When I was invited to interview Jay-Z, I wanted to talk about his song “The Story of O.J.,” from his most recent album, “4:44,” in which he quotes the legendary, maybe apocryphal, Simpson line “I’m not black, I’m O.J.”
I was less engaged by the rapper’s marital troubles or his infamous, caught-on-video 2014 elevator dust-up with his sister-in-law. But I did want to try to understand how, with an $88 million Bel Air mansion a freeway ride from neighborhoods where black people endure with so little, Jay-Z holds onto his younger self — a black man who grew up in the ’70s in the Marcy projects of Brooklyn. It seemed from his new body of work that examining this high-wire act of straddling two places had been stirring more deeply within him — much the way it stirs in me, a Southern black man who grew up revering O.J. and whose own success is infinitely greater than anyone in my early life would have imagined for me.
What is it about the story of O.J. Simpson that moved us both?
BAQUET The things I want to talk to you about: I want to talk a little bit about race. Your music some, too. I thought the song [“The Story of O.J.,” from the album “4:44,” 2017] was particularly powerful. I took the message as, “You can be rich, you can be poor, you’re still black.” Who were you speaking to? Who did you want to listen to that and be moved by it?
JAY-Z It’s a nuanced song, you know. It’s like, I’m specifically speaking to us. And about who we are and how do you maintain the sense of self while pushing it forward and holding us to have a responsibility for our actions. Because in America, it is what it is. And there’s a solution for us: If we had a power base together, it would be a much different conversation than me having a conversation by myself and trying to change America by myself. If I come with 40 million people, there’s a different conversation, right? It’s just how it works. I can effect change and get whomever in office because this many people, we’re all on the same page. Right? So the conversation is, like, “I’m not rich, I’m O.J.” For us to get in that space and then disconnect from the culture. That’s how it starts. This is what happens. And then you know what happens? You’re on your own, and you see how that turned out.
BAQUET Was it a reminder, too, that the thing O.J. forgot, maybe, was that as rich as he was, as entitled as his life was, he was reminded very forcefully when he became a subject of racial debate that he was also a black man, whether he accepted that or not?